James Stempel: ‘Windmill Point,’ the Battle of Cold Harbor

Washington, DC

James Stempel and Breitbart News Daily SiriusXM host Stephen K. Bannon discussed Stempel’s new novel, “Windmill Point,” a historical fiction about the Battle of Cold Harbor.

The book’s description reads:

Windmill Point is gripping historical fiction that vividly brings to life two desperate weeks during the spring of 1864, when the resolution of the American Civil War was balanced on a razor’s edge. At the time, both North and South had legitimate reasons to conclude they were very near victory. Ulysses S. Grant firmly believed that Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia was only one great assault away from implosion; Lee knew that the political will in the North to prosecute the war was on the verge of collapse. Jim Stempel masterfully sets the stage for one of the most horrific battles of the Civil War, contrasting the conversations of decision-making generals with chilling accounts of how ordinary soldiers of both armies fared in the mud, the thunder and the bloody fighting on the battlefield.

Stempel discussed the evolution of warfare with Bannon, saying:

The Civil War passed through one-hundred years of tactical evolution in four years. It began with fighting very much in the Napoleonic style, marching large concentrations of men across open fields of fire to deliver volleys, and it ended four years later in the trenches. That evolution began to end at Cold Harbor.

The book has been extremely well reviewed as “a masterful exhibition of all the elements of war, crafted into a story that is truly spell-binding.” The review continued by stating, “His ability to move from the actions and thoughts of Sgt Wyman White, U.S. Sharpshooters, to the mind-bending disbelief and return to the bottle of Ulysses Grant, following the absolutely devastating assault against Confederate lines at Cold Harbor, is superb.”


Stempel imbues the human element in each of the characters in Windmill Point. Be it Wade Hampton, George Armstrong Custer—whose actions at Trevilian Station eerily foreshadow another June day of battle some 12 years hence , Robert E. Lee, or all of the division and regimental commanders, Stempel paints in print the full dimension of men in battle.

And, most worthy of note, he crafts his narrative in such a manner that all of the Federal and Confederate maneuver elements stand out clearly— an area in which many writers of war get lost oft times in the confusing spectrum of action—without being obscured in the ebb and flow of maneuver.

Stempel’s forte is vivid, bring to life description such as this:

“Directly ahead the red nips, puckers, and flashes of Confederate guns were blazing away so relentlessly that they occasioned a sort of pulsating, crimson, glow, not unlike a vibrant sunset all across the western horizon. Indeed, from where Wyman stood it appeared that the Federal Infantry was not advancing against a mortal foe at all so much as marching directly toward the glowing gates of hell.”

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